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After bipartisan Medicare reform, GOP refocuses on repealing Obamacare

The Republican Party isn't giving up on reversing President Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA), even after Congress' recent bipartisan efforts put in place a key Medicare provision that legislators have long fought over.

"We need to repeal the president's flawed health care law," Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tennessee, said in the GOP's weekly video address. "We need to put the focus on patient-centered reforms that lower costs. And we need to make the real reforms necessary to ensure Medicare and all of our entitlement programs can serve future generations."

The renewed call to overhaul Obamacare comes after a rare bipartisan achievement in reforming Medicare's sustainable growth rate (SGR). The SGR initially meant doctors would face annual rate cuts in their pay from Medicare -- a formula that, according to Roe, only "jeopardizes seniors' access to physicians they count on every day."

But the $214 billion bill passed in the House -- and negotiated by unlikely duo of Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi -- would permanently block these payment slashes to physicians.

"This is what we can accomplish when we're focused on finding common ground," Boehner, R-Ohio, said shortly after the bill's passage. "We know we've got more serious entitlement reform that's needed. It shouldn't take another two decades to do it."

Roe promised "this time is different" and assured viewers that the new legislation would result in a "huge amount of savings" over the coming decades.

"We're delivering the first real entitlement reform in nearly two decades," the Tennessee lawmaker said. "For now, this is progress, and it's an example of what we can accomplish when we focus on finding common ground."

Congress has been faced with renewing a temporary "doc fix" provision nearly 20 times since the late 1990s. The legislative body most recently cut a one-year deal in 2014 when a last-minute vote prevented the SGR formula from reducing physician payments.

In his own address, Mr. Obama took a stab at the GOP's recently passed budget, framing it as anti-middle class.

"The budget Republicans unveiled last week would make it harder, not easier, to crack down on financial fraud and abuse," Mr. Obama said in a new video. "This week, when Republicans rolled out their next economic idea, it had nothing to do with the middle class."

Mr. Obama called the budget a "$250 billion tax cut for the top one-tenth of the top one percent of Americans."

"I don't think our top economic priority should be helping a tiny number of Americans who are already doing extraordinarily well and asking everybody else to foot the bill," the president continued. "I think our top priority should be helping everybody who works hard get ahead. This country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same set of rules."

The president couched his criticism of the Republican budget in a celebration of his own financial reforms, pointing to the fifth anniversary of the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as a step in the right direction for the middle class.

The president touted the agency's recent work to curb abusive payday loan practices -- moves announced in Mr. Obama's trip to Alabama earlier this week.

"The idea is pretty common sense: If you're a payday lender preparing to give a loan, you should make sure that the borrower can afford to pay it back first," the president said.

"As Americans, we believe there's nothing wrong with making a profit. But there is something wrong with making that profit by trapping hard-working men and women in a vicious cycle of debt."